Keller Laros of Jack’s Diving Locker on the Big Island of Hawaii saw something that he’s never seen before and after 10,920 dives that’s saying something! On a Manta Ray Night Dive in September, Keller was guiding divers when he noticed an usual looking surgeon fish with bright blue accents. He took some video and sent it to the experts John Hoover author of Hawaii Fishes: A Guide for Snorkelers and Divers and legendary ichthyologist, John “Jack” Randall. Author of Shore Fishes of Hawaii, Surgeon Fishes of Hawaii and the World, Randall is known as the world’s foremost authority on tropical marine fishes. Dr. Randall has authored 745 publications, described 27 new genera, and 686 new species of fishes. Dr. Randall has dove with Jack’s Diving Locker on the manta ray night dive before.
Dr. Randall told Keller the fish is called the Bignose Unicornfish (Naso vlamingii) and that it may be the first ever reported sighting in Hawaii. He’s still checking, but this is exciting news.
Keller recalls, “When I saw this fish, I knew it was special!”
Common name: Bignose Unicornfish. Scientific name: Naso vlamingii. Named vlamingii in honor of the French naturalist Cornelis de Vlaming. Usually seen in open water in outer reef areas, especially near drop-offs, may occur in lagoons.
Distribution from coast of East Africa to Society Islands and Tuamotu Archipelago. Ranges in the Western Pacific Ocean from Kii Peninsula, Japan to the Great Barrier Reef and New Caledonia. The record from Smith (1966) from the Hawaiian Islands is an error.
Reference: Randall, J. (2001). Surgeonfishes of Hawaii and the World. Honolulu, Hawaii: Mutual Publishing.